Did you know…

September is National Preparedness Month. The National Association of Professional Organizers has once again partnered with the Ready Campaign to highlight the importance of public emergency preparedness. Go to www.ready.gov for great tips and lists to help you be prepared in the event of an emergency!

Productivity & Organization Tip

Re-Usable Check Lists:

I have recently discovered an amazing organizing tool that I just can’t wait to share. I think it will be a new tip to many of you and, if you’re a list lover, you may be just as excited as I am! It has many applications, not just with children, so read to the end!

To give you a background, if you read my previous blogs you know I now have 2 school-aged children. (Wow! That’s different than just having one!) So, in true Janet-style, I looked for ways to streamline our morning and after-school routines. (i.e. I got tired of repeating myself with the things that needed done each day.) I started with paper checklists which were okay but either we had to reprint them every day or decide not to actually check them off and just use them as a “reference” which meant they may or may not get done. BUT THEN….I discovered that sheet protectors are wipe-off-able! (There’s probably a better word for that.) Now their lists are inside of a sheet protector. Each day, my kids check off their tasks with a dry-erase marker as they are completed, I periodically check their progress with a quick scan, and at day’s end then wipe it clean for the next day. (Note, colored markers work better than black.)

The discovery was actually made while I was preparing for a presentation. The presentation is one I give frequently so I’ve created a “standard” packing list, ensuring I walk out the door with everything I need. I always put my presentation notes in sheet protectors, including my packing list. Tired of reprinting the packing list each time I give the presentation, I thought I’d experiment with dry-erase markers on the sheet protectors. It worked like a charm. It didn’t smudge during use but wiped off cleanly when I was done – ready now for the next time.

Below are some other ideas I’ve come up with where this little trick could be used. If you think of something else, please email me! I’d love to know!!

In the Office:

  • To keep track of supplies: Make a list of your office supply cabinet items along with a “need” column, slip it in the page protector, and hang it in the cabinet. When someone takes the last of something, they can check the box in the “need” column.
  • Repetitive tasks: Make lists for any repetitive tasks (like my packing list) or perhaps all the steps required to “open the office”. A checklist is especially useful when a group of people share a common set of tasks – they can quickly see what still needs done.

In the classroom:

  • Teachers, you typically have to-do lists for your students at the beginning and ending of the day. Kids will love to use their dry-erase markers and check it off when they are done! Again, this is a great way to check at a glance on each student’s progress.

At home:

  • Children’s chores (as I shared above)
  • Repetitive trips: I have friends who camp every weekend. Undoubtedly, they have a few things that need to be done before each trip. Turn that into a checklist and check it off as you get done. Then when you return, wipe it clean and file it away for the next trip. We head to the lake each weekend in the summer. My checklist (which WILL be in a page protector next summer) makes sure we leave with life jackets, sunscreen, towels, toys, etc.

For life:

  • If you’re setting goals for yourself each week or every day, list them and hang it so you see it every day. Check them off as you get them accomplished and see how you do for the week. Wipe the slate clean and reward yourself for a completed list or try again. (how wonderful to “erase” a bad day or week!)

So, no, I didn’t invent the next life-saving-organizing-gadget. But, if you are a list maker for yourself or others, I believe you’ll find this to be a time-saver, sanity-keeper, and even a “green” solution!

And if you like the idea of making lists but aren’t sure where to start, check out www.checklists.com. It’s an amusing website with checklists for Aches, Zoo trips, and EVERYTHING in between!

A Thought to Ponder

“The best way to avoid mistakes is to use checklists, get enough sleep, and avoid doing more than one thing at a time.”
~ Joseph Hallinan, author of Why We Make Mistakes, during the March 22, 2009, CBS Sunday Morning Show